A local nonprofit hopes to bring a little joy to patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital For Children with a toy drive that will run through the end of November.
The Local Acts of Kindness Foundation was founded by the DiPasquale family a year ago, on National Kindness Day (Nov. 13). As its anniversary was approaching, the team wanted to do something to commemorate its first year of giving back, so it launched the town-wide toy drive Kind ‘R Us.
Nancy DiPasquale said her family discussed what group could benefit from a drive or collection this holiday season. They thought about children stuck in the hospital during a difficult time and decided patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children could use some joy.
The family is encouraging Moorestown residents and families in the surrounding area to participate in the drive. For anyone who lives within 10 miles of the township, the foundation will arrange contact-free pickup of donations.
Anyone beyond the 10-mile radius can participate by ordering on Amazon and selecting the Rite Aid on Moorestown’s Main Street as the Amazon Locker delivery location. The foundation is not seeking specific items, but is accepting any toy donations.
Once donations are collected, the family will drop off the toys at the hospital, where they will be quarantined in a storage unit for a minimum of eight days to ensure they are safe to distribute.
Hillary Israel, manager of Child Life Services and the Hospital School Program at St. Christopher’s, said in a typical year, staffers sort through donations and display them in a store-like setting. Parents of children receiving in-patient treatment during the holidays are invited to “shop” without their children for free gifts.
Israel said the response from families is always one of gratitude. The hospital gets feedback from families who say they wouldn’t be able to give Christmas gifts if not for the hospital set-up.
Hospital staff are still determining how this year’s donations will be distributed given COVID-19 limitations. One idea is to set up a storefront where a staff member can retrieve items so multiple people aren’t touching the toys.
Israel said while typical donors have informed the hospital they’ll drop off items this year, some have forewarned that donations may be down this year. She added that some organizations might typically collect items at a work meeting or in the community, but given the ongoing pandemic, they are unable to collect in the same way this year.
Despite a possible decrease, the hospital is still acquiring new donors such as Local Acts of Kindness, for which it is grateful.
“We’re alway just blown away by the generosity of everybody,” Israel said.
DiPasquale said the foundation doesn’t have a specific donation goal in mind, but she’s hopeful that whatever they wind up with makes a difference for the children this holiday season.